‘The film has a classic three-part structure which is neatly directed to understand the story. There is a parallel edit of the present day character telling the story of her youth.’
The short feature Remember (Пам’ятати / Pamyataty) from 2016 is the first film by the young Ukrainian Roma director Petro Rusanienko. Based on historical facts, it tells the story of two brave women during World War II.
Lyalya, the only Roma survivor in her community, escapes from the Nazis and finds shelter with a young Ukrainian woman, Maria. The story is periodically narrated by Maria in old age, as she passionately recalls the events to her granddaughter. The film powerfully portrays female heroism, empathy and compassion through the short-lasting friendship between the two young women.
Although Maria does not initially want to hide Lyalya in her house ‘because she is a “Gypsy”’, Lyalya’s simple and sincere inquiry makes all the difference: ‘What makes us different? I was given a life just like you!’
After learning Lyalya’s tragic fate, Maria is moved and deeply sympathetic, although she was hesitant and uncaring at first. Lyalya’s song in Romanes reveals her inner strength and brevity; she decides to leave the shelter although Maria urges her to stay. Lyalya’s death deeply shakes Maria. At the end, the older Maria and her granddaughter lay some flowers at a memorial site commemorating Roma victims during the Holocaust (a statue of a caravan on rocks).
The film is highly relevant in terms of Romani history, and is packed with messages and emotions: the significance of honouring Roma war victims, the injustice faced by Roma, the importance of personal bonds, and the importance of passing on memories of the deceased to the new generation. Furthermore, the positive storyline aids understanding of the suffering of Romani communities. The fresh and realistic storyline contains traces of Romani culture, including music and original Romani lyrics, which makes it even more vivid and realistic.
Teaser from the movie presented on 27 January 2017, International Holocaust Remembrance Day, http://legalspace.org/en/component/k2/item/8753-pam- iataty-film- pro-podii- shcho-boliat- u- sertsiakh-milioniv- romiv
Teaser presented at the National Museum of the History of Ukraine in the Second World War, on Romani Resistance Day (16 May 2017), commemorating ‘Romani resistance to the National Socialist Regimes’, http://archeos.org.ua/?p=13086